I grumbled slightly when I first read about this debate because I thought the way it was framed ‘Islam or Islamophobia – which is a threat to Britain’ was unhelpful.
But I certainly had no problem with the general principle of holding a debate between Tommy Robinson of the EDL and a group called the Muslim Debate Initiative. Searchlight wrote a rather ridiculous letter complaining about the event – which it claimed was opposed by ‘real Muslims’ – and turning down an invitation to attend.
Now Conway Hall has cancelled this event over security concerns. The MDI is clearly disappointed by this decision, and asserts that the objections, or threats, weren’t coming from Muslims who actually wanted to offer their perspective and answer the EDL’s criticisms.
That sounds convincing – and I’m sure the EDL were equally anxious to present their side of the case. I would like to know more about the circumstances of the cancellation, but my instinctive thought is to think it was a pity that UAF decided to demonstrate rather than participate. Anti-fascists ought to be able to articulate their concerns about the EDL – and, if appropriate, about the Muslim speakers should their views turn out to be extreme or unwelcome.
Hat Tip: The Islamic Far Right Blog